El Arish became a real success story in an ambitious Commonwealth Government initiative to rehabilitate returned servicemen after WWI. In many other parts of the country these returned soldier settlements were a disaster with many walking off their land, finding the daunting task of clearing the land and building the farm just too hard.
Farmers battled to make the small lots viable and always had a eye out for another farm if someone walked away. These were the real Pioneers. Before the advent of the tramline that was connected from El Arish to the Tully Mill the farms hauled their cane along their own 60cm ‘horselines’ and then loaded it on the the State Government’s railways to be taken for milling.
El Arish was lucky – Eighty returned soldiers initially settled in the El Arish area. Their endeavors by 1925 meant that the farms were producing 40,000 tonnes of cane and in that year the Tully Mill began operating.
“They tackled scrub with nothing but a crowbar, a mattock and a few sticks of gelignite …” – Harry Linnett Jnr, son of one of the original settlers, Bert Linnett.